Best Places to Travel: Where cookbook author Julia Turshen gets Jamaican food in upstate New York
Nearly four years ago, cookbook author and founder of food industry database Equity at the Table, Julia Turshen moved from Brooklyn to Ulster County in upstate New York. The move was inspired by frequent vacations to the Catskills — including her honeymoon with DesignSponge founder Grace Bonney after their wedding in 2013.
For a former city dweller, the Hudson Valley’s sleepy vibe can be a major shock to the system. So when Turshen needs a “city” fix, she hops in her station wagon and drives to nearby Kingston, New York. “When we first moved to the area, I remember being happy there was a ‘city’ near where we live (which is decidedly not a city and we had moved from a very large city),” Turshen said in an email interview.
Turshen’s new cookbook, Now & Again: Go-to Recipes, Inspired Menus + Endless Ideas for Reinventing Leftovers is available on Sept. 4 (but don’t sleep on the turkey and ricotta meatballs from her 2016 book Small Victories.) As she’s preparing for her new cookbook launch, Turshen reminds herself what she loves most about upstate — and it’s not just the endless options of locally sourced eats.
Where to stay
Though she lives there now, Turshen points guests toward one of the small independent hotels in town, like the Forsyth B&B, a chic, four-room former shop and oyster salon filled with a mix of vintage furniture and thoughtful new decor. The best part? A stay includes a three-course breakfast and end-of-night cookies, all made by the B&B’s owner, a trained pastry chef.
“For a really luxe experience,” Turshen recommends the nearby Hasbrouck House in Stone Ridge, a sprawling property centered around an 18th century Dutch Colonial stone mansion. Twenty suites are spread out among four buildings, and the property’s restaurant, Butterfield, serves farm-to-table feasts for dinner on Wednesday through Sunday.
Where to shop for food
Turshen hits up the Kingston Farmers Market for local fare on Saturday, “and Adams Fairacre Farms for just about everything else,” she said. When she’s shopping for vino, she goes to Kingston Wine Company, which offers a “wine share” program for bottles of the good stuff.
Where to dine out
Turshen has a favorite: “Hands down, it’s Top Taste for Jamaican food and the best people,” she said of the Caribbean spot without a website. She and her wife also love Diego’s Taqueria for street-style tacos, which range from classic barbacoa to a buffalo chicken version.
Where to have a good morning meal
Turshen likes Outdated Cafe, a vegetarian cafe, for her morning coffee, but when it comes to the first meal of the day, she has two places she frequents: Peace Nation Cafe for Guatemalan breakfast (think handmade tortillas and enchiladas) and Dietz Stadium Diner, a family-run spot with 13 omelette options “for great diner breakfast,” she said.
Where to get a drink
When she’s in the mood for a brew, Turshen kicks back and chooses from the offerings on tap at 15-year-old brewery Keegan Ales, her top spot “for great beer — and nachos!” But if it’s more of a vino tonight, she goes to Brunette “for a glass of wine and a nosh,” like the petite sandwiches served warm, or the meat and cheese plate.
Where to shop
Turshen’s favorite bookstore in town is Rough Draft, which sells books alongside beer and wine, plus baked goodies from Kingston Bread Lab. She also likes to shop at Karina Dresses for friends, because as she said: “I haven’t worn a dress for about two decades!” Then she also likes Blue Cashew for “fun kitchen gifts.” Same with Clove & Creek, which has an endless array of home objects that she likes to pick from for friends.
How she gives back
“My wife and I cook every Thursday morning at Angel Food East, a program that provides homemade meals for clients who are homebound with chronic illness,” Turshen said. They also shop at and support the Kingston YMCA Farm Project, an urban educational farm that gives back to the community through a youth development program.